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great theme in the Scripture, with so many variations as by this too much contention has been excited in the Christian church to present to us a single beautifully wrought system of faith, as it were a catechism of Christian doctrine framed by the holy apostles themselves. But how much had stiil been lost to the Christian church, had she, instead of these histories and epistles, which are, as it were, portions cut out from the very life of the first churchly community, received a rule of faith and morals in every respect complete! As much power and fulness and variety of life had départed from her, in proportion as the new song had been always sung by one voice only, and in one tone, for the variety of voices, as they are heard in the New Testament, has certainly had its echo in all ages of the church from the beginning's
What here in narrow compass we behold :-
The war-cry shouted by the soldier Paul,
It has been declared to us, that the great world-building was built by the heavenly wisdom "according to measure, number, and weight;" when, however, we try our hand at reckoning it over, we are always great bunglers. We make a beginning, and even
, as soon as we set out, expect high things; but it turns out afterwards with us as Luther says of the jurists : “A new jurist is in his first year a Justinian, and seems to himself above all Doctors; the next year he becomes a Doctor, the third a licentiate, the fourth a baccalaureate, and the fifth a little student again." In like manner it happens to one now, when one would re-calculate the divine wisdom's measure, number, and weight, in the beautiful structure, which has been placed before us in the Holy Scriptures, it always ends with one's saying, as the wise Socrates observed of
1 The translator is indebted for this very accurate and elegant rendering of some original verses, bere introduced, by Tholuck, to the peu of Miss Potts, daughter of Rev. Dr. Potts of this city; who has kindly furnished it for the present article.
the writings of a great philosopher: "What I do understand of them, is so excellent that from this I also draw a conclusion as to what I do not yet understand.” But this variety, which prevails in the dear divine garden of the Holy Scripture is still, so far as we have already attained to the comprehension of it, really something quite wonderful and glorious. Perhaps most souls begin with the Gospel of John. True, this is a more difficult lection than the other Gospels, but then, too, it is not exactly the understanding of it, that allures and draws souls, but rather it is at first merely as a lovely music, which in a beautiful summer evening sounds over a stream. Then there begins to be a gentle movement and swelling in the heart of the man, so that perhaps he may ask his own heart : Heart, what wilt thou ? for he understands it not himself. Thus it may be in our time with most souls who come to the Saviour, that it is with them in this matter, as with the Samaritan woman, who also said to the Saviour: “Sir, give me this water that I thirst not,” before she was as yet rightly aware of what the Saviour was speaking.
Light, Love, Life,—these are the tones, which float gently and softly over the stream and wave, and gently breathes around the unquiet heart. There is a breath of another world to be felt in them. So one sets himself down at the feet of Jesus, and comes soon to experience, that those were only sweet allurements, in order that the child might be drawn into the School. But now in the School we go on to learn ; here the question is no more of tones but of fruit, and the more one's understanding opens to it, the more too will the first gospels be disclosed to one. perceive, what we must leare, if we would receive ; here we step under the New Testament Sinai, and get sight of the strict domestic discipline in the family of the children of God. This is in the next place also—set forth in body and life--shown to us by the Acts of the Apostles, a very noble and worthy book, which Christians ought to make much more profitable than they do. It is the great visible witness that the Lord has fulfilled his promise, saying: "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you. There we see how the Lord, after he had put off his earthly body, assumed a yet greater body-the body of the Church; there we perceive, that although he is now in heaven at the right hand of God, he has nevertheless also remained among his own on earth. When we learn for the first time rightly to understand what that waving and moving in the heart meant in the beginning, under John's alluring love-tones, then are we educated for the preaching of the righteousness of faith, which Paul preaches. This, in iny opinion, is the uppermost class in the school of Jesus. With Paul one comes next to study James too; for when the view has been given to one of the righteousness which comes from free
1 John 4: 15. 2 John 14: 18.
grace, it is then time also to learn to know the outward form of faith, and to prove in the work of love how powerful faith is. And with James goes hand in hand Peter, who shows us how “ the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the peculiar people, should show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into his marvellous light."
Then if the gift of knowledge has been particularly granted to one, he therefore probably goes on still knocking, and his understanding is opened by Paul to that superscription of the world's history: “From him and through him and to him are all things ;": and by John the mystery of the Godhead is unsealed to him : " In the beginning was ihe Word.” But should we perchance belong to the chosen few whom the Lord holds worthy to have something special spoken in their ear, we may perhaps make trial of ourselves in the Revelation of St. John, whether it may have been given to us to read some lines in the book with seven seals, in the book of the world's history, whose seals he alone was found worthy to open, to whom the new song is sung: “ Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign upon earth.”3
Ő Heavenly Wisdom, in deep humility I supplicate thee; open my eyes, that I may recognize the wonders of thy law! So much has thy grace blessingly permitted me already to experience, that I with full conviction, “Where else should I go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” But thy Word has for me also many dark places still. I thirst for this, Lord, to see Thee wholly in thy light, my thirst is not the thirst of doubt, it is the thirst of fuith'; yea, I am most surely convinced, that thy darknesses are light; therefore wilt Thou also satisfy it. Only help me to read thy holy Word always aright, with an undistracted mind, and with a reverential and humble heart, as one ought to read a king's hand-writing. Make my heart, as often as I step before it, pure from all carnal and idle thoughts, that I may not behold myself, while thinking that I perceive Thee, and that thy divine thoughts may be truly mirrored therein. And since Thy light, holy God, is a light of life, therefore help me, that all light which beams into me from thy Word, may clarify me also, and make me transparent and may become apower of life for ine.
'1 Peter 2: 9. Rom. 11:36. Rev. 5: 9, 10.
LITERARY AND CRITICAL NOTICES OF BOOKS.
BY THE EDITOR.
1. General History of the Christian Religion and Church : from
the German of Dr. AUGUSTUS NEANDER. By JOSEPH Torrey. Vol. III: comprising the Third and Fourth Volumes of the original. Third American edition. Boston: Crocker & Brewster. London: John Wiley. 1850.
We hail the appearance of another volume of this noble History, with no little pleasure. NEANDER, so far as completed, is incomparably the best ecclesiastical history ever written, and will unquestionably be regarded as the standard work on this subject for ages to come. We need not speak of the peculiar and transcendent merits of this History, as the two volumes before translated by Prof. Torrey, and published, have made it extensively known to English readers, both in this country and Great Britain. No man can be said to be well read in church history, who has not read and studied this most learned and splendid work of the great German historian. It seems to combine the excellencies of all other histories, and to leave little inore to be said or done in this department of sacred literature.
Prof. Torrey has also executed his truly formidable and difficult task in a most scholarly and able manner, quite to the satisfaction of all who are capable of forming an intelligent judgment in the matter.
The present yolume comprises the third and fourth periods of the church, according to the plan of division adopted by the author, i. e. from the time of Gregory the Great to the death of Charlemagne; and from the death of Charlemagne to the time of Gregory VII., or from A.D. 590 to A.D. 1073. We hope the learned author will be spared to coinplete the master work, and that Prof. Torrey will be encouraged to introduce the remainder into the circle of English literature.
We rejoice that this volume, and the scarcely less valuable work of Gieseler, make their appearance in this country at a period so opportune. It is manifest to an observing mind, from various signs in the theological heavens, that the fundamental doctrines of Christianity are to undergo a new and thorough investigation and discussion in the American church. And we do not fear the result. The truth will gain new laurels. All who love it will gain a clearer perception of it, and come to hold it in greater simplicity. But we need, in such a discussion, as a thing indispensable, the light oi history, Church his tory has not been half enough studied in our seminaries, and by our ministry. More attention must and will be given to this branch of learning. And we thank God that such admirable helps and increased facilities are furnished for the needed work.
THIRD SERIES, VOL. VI., no. 1. 12
2. History of Spanish Literature. By GEORGE TICKNOR. In three
volumes. 8vo. pp. 568, 542, 549. New York : Harper & Brothers. 1849.
This is a truly magnificent work, whether we regard its external appearance, its typographical beauty, or its literary merits. The publishers have excelled even themselves in producing these stately and elegant volumes. We have seen no American book that surpasses them in the mechanical department. And we are not surprised that so much pain and expense had been expended upon the work : it merits its rich and beautiful dress.
We have no hesitation in pronouncing this the greatest literary work that has appeared in this country since the publication of Prescott's Histories; indeed, few native productions will compare with it. It confers no little honor on American literature, and is a rare and most valuable contribution to the literary world. It exhibits the fruits of patient toil, immense research, varied and profound erudition, and a literary taste and ability of the highest order. It is written in a style of great beauty, and brings to light a mass of curious and deeply interesting matter, illustrative of Spanish literature and history. The notes and appendices are numerous and learned, containing a vast fund of information and learning upon general subjects, while the references to authorities are full and complete. And not the least interesting part are the specimens of the old Spanish ballads, chronicles, and romances which are freely interspersed throughout the three volumes.
The first volume contains a complete historical and critical exposition of the development of Spanish literature, from “the first appearance of the present written language, to the early part of the reign of Charles the Fifth.” The second and third volumes bring it down to the early part of the present century. The leading subjects dwelt upon and illustrated are the ballads, the chronicles, and romances of chivalry, the drama, the provençal literature, the courtly school in Castile, an extended notice of the theatre, historical and narrative poems, lyric poetry, romantic fiction, epistolatory correspondence, historical composition, and various historical sketches of kings and other subjects between the accession of the Bourbon family and the invasion of Bonaparte.
We can do no more at present than to give the closing paragraph of this learned and elegant history, which will serve to show the style and genius of the author. He takes a hopeful view of the future, as it respects Spain and her literature ; a movement toward the revival of letters was made even wbile Ferdinand the Seventh was living, which may press directly onward and complete the canon of literature, whose forms, often only sketched by the great masters of its age of glory, remain yet to be filled out and finished in the grandeur and grace of their proper proportions :
“ But, whether a great advancement may be hoped for or not, one thing is certain-The law of progress is on Spain for good or for evil, as it is on the other nations of the earth, and her destiny, like theirs, is in the band of God,